Translation:Tales of Rabbi Nachman/10

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1186526Tales of Rabbi Nachman (Sipurei Ma'asiyot) — The Burgher and the PauperNachman of Breslov

[Introduction; the Dream of the Burgher and the Pauper's Wife][edit]

A tale. Once there was a burgher (that is, a [member of the] great merchant [class in Medieval Europe]) [burgh denotes a (fortified) city and is related to the word berg, mountain; see Rabbi Nathan's notes at the story's end] who was an extremely rich man and had a vast amount of merchandise. His promissory notes [vekhseln] and letters of credit [briv] circulated over the world and he had everything good. Below him lived a pauper who was an extremely poor man and had the complete opposite of the burgher (that is, the complete reverse: just as the burgher was a very rich man, so the pauper was conversely a very poor man). But both of them had no children: the burgher had no children and likewise the pauper also had no children.

Once, the burgher dreamed that people came to his house and were making packages and packages. He asked them, "What are you doing?" They replied: they will carry it all away to that very same pauper (that is, the pauper who lived under him, as mentioned). It annoyed him very much and he grew very angry that they wanted to carry away all his wealth to the pauper. To be wroth at them was impossible, for they were a good many people. So they continued making packages and packages of all his belongings, all his wares and all his goods and they carried absolutely everything away to the aforementioned pauper, leaving him nothing in the house but the bare walls; and it upset him very, very much. Meanwhile, he woke up and saw: it's a dream. And even though he saw it's only a dream and, thank God, all his belongings were with him — still all the same his heart pounded mightily and the dream could not be got out of his mind and the dream upset him severely. The pauper and his wife used to be cared for by the burgher and he would give to them often. But now after the dream he cared for them more than before. However, whenever the poor man or his wife would come into his house, his facial expression would change and he became frightened of them because he would recall the dream. And they, that is, the pauper and his wife, would often go to his house and were often with him.

One time the pauper's wife came to his house and he gave her what he gave her, and his expression changed and he became stricken with fear. She asked him and said, "I beg pardon of your honor. Tell me why it is that whenever we come to you your face becomes drastically changed." He told her the whole story: that he had had such a dream (as above) and since then his heart has been pounding him mightily (as above). She replied to him: did the dream take place on such and such a night (which she said)? He answers her, "Yes. What about it?" She replies to him, "On that night I also dreamed: that I'm a very wealthy person, and people had come to my house and were making packages upon packages. I asked them, 'Where are you bringing this?' They replied, 'To the pauper (that is, to the burgher, whom they already called a poor man now).' Therefore why do you pay attention to a dream? What for? — I also had a dream." Now the burgher has become all the more frightened and confused, since he has heard her dream as well, because it seems that his wealth and property are to be brought to the pauper and that the pauper's poverty are to be brought to him. He has become extremely panicked.

[The Wives' Trip and the Pauper's Wife's Capture; Rescue by the Burgher & the Pauper's Wife's Oath][edit]

And the day came to pass — the burgher's wife took a trip by coach, taking other wives along with her, and she took the pauper's wife too. And while traveling along on their tour, meanwhile a general and his army passed through. They got off the road and the army passed through. The general saw that women were traveling and he gave orders that one of them should be taken out, and they went and took out the pauper's wife, snatched her into the general's coach and drove away with her. Getting her back was certainly impossible now, for he had driven off with her, and especially a general with his army... And with her he rode to his country. And she was a Heaven-fearing person (that is, she had fear of God) and she was not willing to listen to him at all and she wept very profusely. They implored her a great deal and coaxed her but she was, however, an exceedingly Heaven-fearing person. And she (the burgher's wife, and the other wives) returned from their tour but the pauper's wife was not there. The pauper wept very, very much, beating his head against the wall and constantly mourning for his wife bitterly.

One day the burgher passed by the pauper's house and heard the poor man crying so bitterly and beating his head against the wall. He went in and asked him, "Why are you crying so intensely?" He answered him, "Why shouldn't I weep? What do I have left? Some people are left with wealth or with children. I have nothing at all and my wife has also been taken from me. What do I have left?" The burgher's heart was very touched [angekhapt, lit. captured] and he had great pity on the pauper on account of seeing his bitterness, his acute sorrow, and he went and did a reckless thing; it was so truly an insanity — and he went and asked in which city the general lives, and he journeyed there. Then he did a reckless [Yid. vild wild, extraordinary; Heb. mevohal me'od very panicked] thing: going into the general's house. Now, before the general there are sentries posted, but he [the burgher], on account of his severe agitation, suddenly with extreme turmoil went and paid no attention to the guards whatsoever; and the guards became shocked and extremely confused due to suddenly seeing a man beside them in great agitation, so they became very shocked: "How did this guy get here?" And due to their panic all the guards permitted him and he passed through all the guards until he went in the general's house, in the place where she [the pauper's wife] was lying. And he came and woke her up, and said to her, "Come!" When she caught sight of him she took fright. He said to her, "Come with me right away!" She went with him, and now again they passed by all the guards until they emerged outside. Only then did he first come around and realize what he had done there, such a wild thing, and he realized that for certain there would right away be a big uproar at the general's, and that's just what happened: there was a big commotion at the general's.

The burgher went and hid himself with her in a pit where there was rainwater until the commotion died down, and he tarried there with her for two days. She saw the great self-sacrifice that he has for her sake and the troubles that he suffers for her, and she swore by God that all the mazal[1]

that she has — possibly she has some kind of mazal, that she will have supreme grandeur and success [groiss gedulah un hatzlocheh] — then all her success will not be withheld from him (that is, from the burgher), and that if he should want to take for himself all her success and greatness, so that she should remain just as she was before, it would not be withheld from him whatsoever. However, how does one get witnesses there? She took the pit as a witness.

After two days he went out of there with her and went further. And he went with her further and further. And he understood that there in that place, she [Heb. he] is also being sought. He went and hid himself with her in a mikveh [ritual bath]. There once again she recalled the great sacrifice and the suffering which he endures for her sake and she once again swore as before: that all her mazal etc. as mentioned, taking the ritual bath as her witness. They were there as well for approximately two days and they went out and went further. Again he understood that they are searching here too and again he hid himself along with her. And so it happened several times, hiding himself with her each time in another place, namely in seven different waters, that is, in a pit with water and in a mikveh as mentioned, and ponds (mucky waters), a spring, rivulets (creeks), rivers and seas. And in every place where they hid she kept remembering his self-sacrifice and the troubles which he endures for her sake, and she kept swearing: that her mazal etc. as mentioned, each time taking the place as witness, as mentioned. And they kept going in this manner, always hiding themselves in those places (mentioned above), until they came to the sea. When they came to the sea — and the burgher was a great merchant and knew the sea lanes — he negotiated [lit. cut himself] to get to his country, until he traveled the way and came home with the pauper's wife and brought her back to the pauper. There was great rejoicing.

[The Burgher's Son and the Pauper's Daughter; the Match; Rise of the Pauper][edit]

The burgher, because he had done such a thing, and in addition had withstood trial (passed the test) with her (that is, he had the fear of God and did not touch her), therefore he was "remembered" (that is, "thought about" by Hashem Yithbarakh) [nifkad; see Gen. 21:1 etc.] and that year he had a son.

And she too, that is, the pauper's wife, because she withstood such a trial, both with the general and with the burgher, she therefore merited to have a daughter. And she was a supreme beauty, an extraordinarily great beauty which was unlike any human beauty whatsoever, for among mankind one never sees such beauty. Everyone [di velt, lit. the world] would say, "She should just grow to maturity!" (for it is hard for such an extraordinary novelty to reach maturity) because her beauty was absolutely extraordinary, the likes of which one doesn't see on earth. Everyone in the world would travel in and come to see her, and they would be very astonished at her beauty which was very, very extraordinary, and would give her gifts all the time out of affection, and they so kept presenting gifts until the pauper became rich.

As for the burgher, it entered his mind that he should arrange a match with the pauper due to her great beauty which was such a marvel, and he thought to himself: maybe this is what the dream will mean; that what's his is brought to the pauper and what's the pauper's to him; maybe the dream signifies this, that they will have a match; they will be mixed into one through the match.

One time, the pauper's wife came to the burgher and he told her that he has desire to have a match with her; and maybe through this the dreams will be realized, as above. She replied to him, "I've had this in mind as well, but I didn't have the boldness to talk of this, that I should be related to you through marriage. But if you want, I am certainly ready and will certainly not hold back from you, for I have already sworn that all my good and my success will not be withheld from you. And the son (of the burgher) and the daughter both learned in one schoolroom, languages and other things as was the order among them. And people would come to see the daughter on account of the exceptional novelty and kept presenting her with gifts until the pauper became rich.

And nobility would come see her and they liked her very much, and her beauty was an extreme marvel, for it was no human kind of beauty; and because of her extraordinary beauty the nobility got the idea of contracting a marriage with the pauper, and [any] minister who had a son wanted very much to contract a marriage with her. However, it would not befit the nobility to have a match with him (that is, with the pauper); they therefore needed to see to exerting themselves to make this man big (that is, the pauper), and they saw to it that he should perform a service for the emperor [Yid. keisar < Lat. Caesar].

And he was first an ensign [Rus. práporshchik, the lowest military officer rank < Slav. prápor flag] and afterwards continually higher and higher, for they saw to it to quickly promote him each time, until he rapidly became each time higher and higher, until he became a general. By now the nobility already wanted to have a match with him, however there were many nobility who wanted this, for many nobility had aimed at this [deroyf gefalen lit. fallen on it] and busied themselves with it, to continuously promote him. (Therefore he could not have a match with any of them.) And furthermore he could not have a match with any of them on account of the burgher, for it was already discussed that there would be a match with him.

And the pauper, who has now become a general — he became more and more successful. And the emperor would send him into battles and he was successful each time, and the emperor promoted him still higher each time and he was continuously very successful, until the emperor died. The entire country came to the decision to make him emperor, and all the nobility assembled together and all agreed that he should be emperor. He became emperor (that is, the aforementioned pauper has now become emperor) and he waged wars and was very successful, conquering countries, and waged more wars and was continuously successful, continually taking over countries until the other lands themselves submitted themselves under him with good will, for they saw his success is extremely great, for all the beauty of the world and all the mazal of the world was with him. So all the kings met together and agreed that he should be emperor over the entire world, and they gave him a document written with golden letters[2].

[The Ex-Pauper Emperor Reneges on the Match, but His Wife Adheres; The Emperor Schemes to Bring Down the Burgher and Eliminate His Son][edit]

And the emperor (that is, the pauper who has become emperor over the entire world) no longer wanted to have a match with the burgher, for it is not fitting that an emperor should have a match with a burgher. But his wife the empress — she did not desert the burgher. (That is, she stood by the burgher because he had risked his life for her sake, as mentioned.) The emperor therefore saw that he cannot make any match on account of the burgher, particularly since his wife supports him very, very much. Therefore he began to think thoughts about the burgher; and in the beginning he saw to it to place him in poverty and he made schemes just as if it were not from him at all, and he continually saw to it to cause him damages; and an emperor can certainly do this. He was continually caused losses and continuously beaten out of money until he became impoverished and became an absolute pauper. But she, the empress, kept adhering to the burgher.

Then the emperor realized that as long as the son is alive, (that is, the burgher's son) he can make no other match. The emperor exerted himself to rid the young man [bachur in both Yid. & Heb.: chosen one; or young man, youth, unmarried] from the earth and he thought out plans to eliminate him. And he set up false charges on him and called the judges into session to try him. The judges understood that the emperor's will was that he be eliminated from the world, and they delivered the sentence that he be put in a sack (that is, the burgher's son) and thrown into the sea.

[The Empress Saves the Burgher's Son; Her Daughter Sends Him a Note in Captivity; He Escapes and Becomes Lodged Alone in a Wilderness][edit]

As for the empress, her heart was very pained at this, however, even the empress too can do nothing up against the emperor. She went to the designees who were appointed to throw him into the sea, and she came to them and fell at their feet and pleaded with them direly that they should do for her sake and let him go, for: why does he deserve execution? So she begged them very much that they should take another captive who had to be executed and throw him into the sea, and the young man they should release. This she achieved with them; they swore that they would release him and so they did. And they took another man and threw him into the sea, but him they released (saying): "Go! Go!" And he went away. And the young man was already of mature mind [bar da`at, lit. "son of knowledge"], so he went his way.

And before this, that is, prior to the young man leaving, the empress went and summoned her daughter and said to her thus: "My daughter, you must know that this burgher's son is your groom;" and she told her daughter the entire story that happened to her, and "how the burgher sacrificed his well-being for my sake and was with me in the seven places (that is, in the seven types of water), and I swore to him every time by God that all my good would not be withheld from him, and I took those seven places as witnesses (that is, the pit, the mikveh, and all the rest of the seven types of water.)" Therefore now — you are all my good and all my mazal and my success; you are certainly his, and his son is your groom. And your father because of his haughtiness wants to kill him for no reason, but I have already made efforts to save him and have brought about that he be released. Therefore you should know that he is your groom (that is, the burgher's son), and you must not agree to any other groom in the world." The daughter accepted her mother's words, because she too was a God-fearing person, and she replied to her mother that she would certainly uphold her words.

The daughter went and sent a note to the burgher's son in prison, that she retains herself by him and he is her groom. And she sent something like a piece of a map, and she drew on it all the places where her mother had hidden with his father, which are the seven witnesses, that is, the pit, the mikveh and the rest as mentioned; that is, on it she drew something like a pit, a mikveh, and the rest of the seven types of waters. And she ordered him very, very strongly that he should guard this note very, very much, and she signed herself underneath; then things took place as mentioned: the deputies took another man, and him they released and he went on his way.

And he went and went until he reached the sea and he boarded a ship and set out upon the sea. A big storm wind came along and carried away the ship to a coast that was desert (that is, desolate) and on account of the great tempest, the ship was broken up; however, the passengers were saved and made out to dry land. And there it was a wilderness; the people from the ship went off in search of food. Each one looked for something to eat, for at that location it was not the norm that ships should arrive there, for it was desert. Therefore they did not think there, that some ship would come so that they could return home. They went along in the wilderness in search of food and became scattered here and there, each one separate. And the young man wanted to turn back but he no longer could, and the more he wanted to turn back, the farther he got, until he saw he can no longer return; so he went where he went in the wilderness. And he had in his hand a bow with which he protected himself against the vicious animals of the wilderness, and while walking he found himself something to eat there. And thus he walked and walked, until he emerged from the wilderness. And he arrived at a habitable spot that was a vacant place, and there was water there, and fruit trees around with fruit, and he ate of the fruit and drank of the water. And he resolved in his mind that he would settle down there for as long as he lives, for after all, anyhow it is already difficult for him to return to civilization, and who knows if he would again arrive at such a place if he would leave this place and go away? Therefore he wanted to dwell away there, and there live out this world. For it was good for him there, as he had fruit to eat and water to drink; and sometimes he would go out and shoot with his bow a rabbit or a deer and he had meat to eat. And he would catch fish there, for there were very good fish in the water there. It pleased him to live out his years there.

[The Emperor Proceeds to Make Other Matches with His Daughter and Makes Her a Court; She Is Courted but Refuses][edit]

As for the emperor, after the sentence had been carried out on the burgher's son and he was now free of him (for the emperor thought that they had indeed truly executed the judgment on the young man and he is no longer on the earth), now then he can already make a match with his daughter [that is, for his own daughter].

They began proposing matches to her with this king and with that king, and he made her a court in the appropriate way, and she remained there. And she took young ladies, daughters of nobility, to be her companions and she lived there, and she would play on musical instruments in their usual fashion. And whatever they proposed match to her, she always replied that she did not want any talk (that is, talk about the match) but that he himself should come (that is, he who wants to marry her). And she had very expert knowledge of the wisdom [chokhmah] of song (that is, the chokhmah to speak very beautiful lyrics with great chokhmah); and with skillful artisanship she made a place for him to come to (that is, he who wants to marry her) and stand facing her and say a song, that is, a song of desire, just as a desirer speaks to his desired (that is, words of love). Kings would come to be matched with her and they arrived at that place and they each one spoke his song.

To some of them she sent a reply through her ladies, also with a song and with affection. And to some whom she liked more, she herself responded and she would raise her voice with a song and reply to him as well words of affection. And to some whom she liked even more she would personally show herself face to face; so she showed her face and replied to him with a song with affection. But to all of them she always concluded in the end, "The waters, however, did not pass over you [Di vassern zenen aber iber dir nit ariber gigangen]." And none of them understood what she meant. And when she showed her face people would fall down due to enormous beauty, and some were left weak and some became insane on account of lovesickness due to her great beauty which was very, very extraordinary. And nonetheless, even though they became insane and were left weak, despite this kings would still come to be matched with her; and she gave them all the same answer, as above.

[The Burgher's Son Muses with the Note; the Note is Lost and He Reaches Settlement; Three Kings Betray Him][edit]

And the burgher's son remained in that same place and he made himself a place to dwell in and he lived there. And he too could play and knew the wisdom of song; he selected wood out of which musical instruments can be made and he made himself instruments, and from the veins of animals he made strings; thus he would musically accompany himself. And he would take the note that he had which she had sent him (at the time he was in captivity) and he would sing and play and remember what had befallen him, and how his father had been a burgher etc., and now he has been cast off to here. And he went and took the note and made a sign on a tree and made a place there in the tree and hid the note there, and he dwelled there for some time.

One time there was a great storm wind and it broke all the trees that were standing there. He could not recognize the tree where he had hidden the note, for when the trees were standing in their place he had a sign to recognize, but now that they had fallen the tree became mixed among the other trees which were very numerous there; he could no longer recognize the particular tree. And it was impossible to split open all the trees and look for the note, for there were very many trees. He cried exceedingly and was extremely sad and he realized that if he would stay there he would certainly become insane on account of great anguish that he had.

He came to the decision that he must go further away and whatever should happen to him, let happen — go away he must, for he is anyway in great danger due to severe anguish. So he got some meat and fruit into a sack and went wherever he would go. And he made signs in the place from which he left and he went along until he reached a settled area. He asked them, "What land is this?" They answered him. He asked if they had heard about the emperor here. They answered him, "Yes." He asked if they had heard about his daughter, the beauty. They answered him, "Yes, but no one can be matched with her (as mentioned, for she wants none of them, as mentioned)." He came to a decision, since he can't get there anyway — and he went to the king of the country and spoke his heart out entirely: And that he is her groom and because of him she wants no other match. And he cannot get there, therefore he gives over to the king all the signs that he has, that is, the seven waters mentioned above. And the king should himself go there and he will match himself with her; and he should give him money for this.

The king recognized that his words are true, for one cannot think up such things out of one's heart. The thing pleased the king. However, he decided: if he brings her here and the young man will be here, this is not good for him. Should he kill him? He did not want to do such a thing, for why should one after all kill him for the favor? Therefore the king decided he would exile him two hundred miles away. He was very upset at him exiling him for such a favor as he had done him. There as well he went to another king and told likewise too as before. (That is, the young man, the burgher's son, because it upset him that the first king exiled him, went to another king and told him as well the whole story with all the signs, so that the other should make haste to marry the beauty.) So he related to him all the signs and to this other king he added an additional sign. And he ordered him and rushed him to set out immediately; maybe he can overtake the other king, in order to get there first; and even if he does not arrive first, he still has one sign more than the first. And the second one decided as well like the first (that it is not good for him if the young man should be here); the other king also exiled him two hundred miles further. He was again very upset and he went again to a third one (that is, the young man, the burgher's son, again went to a king who was now the third, and also told him as before, the entire story); so he went another time, to a third king. He also told him the whole story, as with the others. And to the third one he gave even more signs, very good signs.

The first king got up and traveled there and arrived there at the location of the emperor's daughter, that is, the beauty. And the king composed a song and embedded in the song, with wisdom, all the places, that is, the seven aforementioned witnesses (that is, the seven types of water, which were the essential signs of her groom that she had, as mentioned). However, in accord with the science of song the seven places came out for him not in order (that is, for example he had to say the pit first and then the mikveh etc., but he said in reverse), for so it came out for him according to the wisdom of the song. And the king came up on the place (that is, on the place where the one who wanted to be matched with her had to come upon and say a song with wisdom as mentioned), and he said his song. When she heard the places (that is, the seven types of waters) it was extraordinary news for her. It felt to her that this was certainly her groom, but it was difficult for her why he said them not in order. However, notwithstanding, she thought perhaps due to the science of the song, this order came out for him. It was accepted in her heart that this is he himself. She wrote to him that she designates herself as matched with him. There was a grand celebration and a commotion inasmuch as the beauty has at last found her match, and they were already preparing for the wedding.

Meanwhile, the other one arrived (that is, the other king, to whom the young man had also divulged all the signs plus one more sign, as mentioned). And the other one also ran there and they told him that she has already made a match; but he paid no mind to this [lit. he didn't look at it] and he said: nonetheless, he still has something to tell her; that he will certainly have an effect. He came (that is, the other king) and said his song — and this other one has now arranged all the places in order, and moreover he gave one more sign in addition. She asked him, "From where does the first one know?" If he were to tell the truth it would not be good for him (that is, the other thought he cannot tell her the truth, that the young man told the first one, for it's not good for him if she should know that). So he said he doesn't know (from where the first one knew the signs). It was a big wonder to her and she was left standing bewildered, for the first one also told out all the places; and from where should a man know these signs? But notwithstanding, it felt to her that this other [second] one is her groom, for she saw that he told in sequence, and in addition one more sign; and the first one, maybe it came out to him through the science of song that he mentioned the places. Albeit, now she remained standing (in other words she could no longer give herself counsel; she stayed put and now was not willing to be matched with anyone).

And the young man, that is, the burgher's son, when the second king exiled him, was again very upset, and he went to a third king and told him the whole entire story as above, and he told him even more signs, very good signs. And in front of this third one he told out his entire heart: Inasmuch as he had a note on which all these places were drawn (that is, the seven types of water); therefore he [the king] should draw on a piece of paper all those places and bring [it] to her. And the third king also exiled the young man two hundred miles further yet, and the third one also ran there. And he got there; he was told that the other two (that is, the two kings) are there already. He replied, "Nevertheless," for he has such a thing that he will definitely have an effect. And the world [i.e. people] did not know whatsoever why she wants these kings more than others. And the third one came and said his song with very excellent signs, better than the first ones, and he showed the note (where he himself had re-drawn the places) with all the places drawn. She became very panicked (in other words, scared and disturbed), however, she did not at all know a thing to do, since regarding the first one she also thought that this is he; and then regarding the second. Therefore, she said that she would believe no longer until her very own writing itself is brought.

[The Young Man Goes Himself, but She Pays No Mind and He Returns to His Place in the Wilderness][edit]

Then the young man decided (that is, the burgher's son): how will he always be sent further away? So he made up his mind he himself would set out for there (that is, to the emperor's daughter); perhaps he will have effect. And he went and went until he got there. And he said he has something that will definitely have effect. And he approached and said his song. And he said even more signs, very good signs, and he reminded her that he had learned with her in one schoolroom, and other signs too. And he told her everything: that he had sent the aforementioned kings, and hidden the writing in a tree, and everything that had befallen him.

But she did not regard this at all (and the first three kings certainly also had to say some reasons for not having the note). And to recognize him is certainly impossible, for a long time had already passed. So she already no longer wanted to regard any signs at all until the writing of her own hand is brought, for regarding the first one she also thought that this is he for certain, and likewise regarding the second, etc.; therefore she no longer wanted any signs etc. as mentioned. And the young man (that is, the burgher's son) decided he can make no delay whatsoever here (in other words, he cannot tarry here, for it may become known that he is here; the emperor will kill him, as mentioned).

He made up his mind he would again return back to his spot in the wilderness where he was before, and there he would live out his life. And he went and traveled to get to that wilderness and he arrived there at the wilderness. Meanwhile as the above was all happening, very many years went by. And it remained in the young man's mind that he should sit away there in the wilderness and live out his years there. According to how he had evaluated the entire mortal life on earth, it was clear in his mind that it is good for him to live out his years here in the wilderness; and he lived there and ate from the fruits, etc. as mentioned.

[A Murderer Kidnaps Her; She Arrives at the Young Man's Place][edit]

Now, on the sea was a murderer, and the murderer heard that there exists such a beauty on the earth. He wanted to abduct her even though he did not need her since he was a eunuch; he only wanted to grab her in order to sell her to some king; he'll get a great deal of money for her. So the murderer began to busy himself with the thing. And a murderer is a reckless person, so he abandoned himself: if he accomplishes, he accomplishes, and if not, what will he forfeit here? For he is after all a reckless person, as the way of a murderer is. So the murderer went and bought a vast amount of wares — extraordinarily much. And he made golden birds, and they were made with craftsmanship so that one would think they live; they were just like living birds in nature. Moreover he made golden grain stalks, and the birds stood on the grain stalks and this alone was a novelty, that the birds stand on the stalks without the stalks breaking, for they were large birds. And furthermore he made devices so that a person thought that the birds make music; one clicked its tongue, one chirped, and one sang. And this was all done with cunning, for men stood there in a room that was on the ship and the men stood under the birds and the men did it all, and it was thought that the birds themselves make music, for they were cunningly made with wires; it was thought the birds themselves do all this.

And the murderer went off with all this to the land where the aforementioned emperor's daughter was. And he came to the city where she was and he brought himself to a standstill with the ship in the sea and anchored the ship and made himself out to be big merchant. People would go to him to buy expensive wares, and he stayed there a while, a quarter year and longer, and people always carried off beautiful wares that they bought from him.

The emperor's daughter also desired to buy wares from him; she dispatched to him that he should bring her merchandise. He dispatched to her: he has no need to bring merchandise to a buyer's house, even if she is an emperor's daughter; whoever needs merchandise should come to him. And no one can force a merchant into that, so the emperor's daughter decided to go to him. And her custom was: whenever she would go in the marketplace she would veil her face in order that one should not gaze at her, for people would be liable to fall down and be left in weakness etc. due to her beauty. The emperor's daughter went, covering her face, and she took her ladies with her and a watch [Yid. vakh guard, lit. wake, vigil; a squad of guards] followed her. And she came to the merchant (that is, to the murderer, who disguised himself as a merchant) and she bought some wares from him and went her way. He told her (that is, the murderer, the merchant), "If you come once more, I will show you even more beautiful articles than this, very wonderful things." And she returned home. After that she came once again and bought merchandise from him and again went home. And the murderer stayed there for a while. Meanwhile the emperor's daughter already became accustomed to visiting him; she would go to him often.

One day she came to him. He went and opened for her the room where the golden birds and so forth were located. She saw it being a very extraordinary novelty; and the other people who were with her (that is, the watch, etc.) also wanted to go in the room. He said, "No, no! I don't show this to anyone except you because you are the emperor's daughter; but for others I don't want to show this at all." She alone entered in there, and he too went in the room, and he locked the door and did a crude thing and took a sack and forcefully put her in the sack. And he took off all her clothes from her and dressed a sailor with the clothing, veiled his face, pushed him out, and said to him, "Go!" And the sailor, not knowing whatsoever what's happening to him, as soon as he emerged with his face covered, the soldiers (that is, the watch) being unaware immediately began walking with him; they thought that this is the emperor's daughter. And the sailor went along with the troop wherever they led him; and not knowing whatsoever where in the world he is, he came there into the room where the emperor's daughter lived. His face was uncovered and they noticed that this is a plainly a sailor. There was a tremendous uproar there. (And the sailor was slapped quite thoroughly in the face and was shoved out, since he is after all not responsible, for he didn't know at all.)

And the murderer took the emperor's daughter, and he knew that he would certainly be chased after. He left the ship and hid himself together with her in a pit containing rainwater until the uproar would subside. And the ship's sailors he ordered to immediately cut anchors and flee right away, for they would certainly be pursued; and the ship would certainly not be shot at on account of the emperor's daughter, for they will think that she is there on the ship. "However, they will pursue you; therefore you should flee immediately. If they catch you, so what?" — as the way of murderers is; they do not look at themselves at all (in other words, they disregard themselves). And such is what happened; there was a big outcry and they were immediately chased; however, she was not found there. And the murderer hid himself together with her in a pit of rainwater, and they lay there. And he scared her so that she wouldn't scream, in order that people should not hear. And he said to her thus: "I have risked my life for your sake in order to capture you, and if I should lose you again, my life is not worth anything at all to me: for since you are already in my hand, if I should lose you again and you be taken away from me, then my life is already worth nothing to me. Therefore as soon as you just give a yell I will strangle you right away, and let whatever happens to me happen, for I consider myself worthless in that case." She was terrified of him (in other words, the emperor's daughter who was lying in the pit with the murderer, was afraid to scream since the murderer had scared her).

Then he departed from there with her and he brought her to a city and they traveled on and traveled on, and they came to a place and the murderer understood that there too they are searching. He hid himself together with her in a mikveh. And then he went out from there too and came to another place, and there also he hid himself with her in another water, and thus he hid himself with her each time in another water, until he had hidden himself with her in all the seven kinds of waters that the burgher had hidden himself in with her mother, as mentioned, which constitute the seven witnesses, as mentioned, until he came with her to the sea. The murderer searched there for even a small boat from which they catch fish, in order to cross with her. He found a ship; he took the emperor's daughter, and he did not need her, for he was a eunuch as mentioned, but just wanted to sell her to some king. And he had fear lest she be snatched away from him, so he went ahead and dressed her in sailor's clothes; she looked like a male. And the murderer traveled with her on the sea (that is, with the emperor's daughter, whom we refer to in male terms, as the murderer disguised her thus, as mentioned).

A storm wind came and carried away the ship to a shore, and the boat was broken and they came to the shore where the wilderness was, where the young man was living. When they came there, and the pirate was expert in routes as usual, he knew that here it is desert; that no ships come here. Therefore, he no longer had any fear of any man and he let her loose. And they walked (that is, the murderer and the emperor's daughter), he this way and she that way, to find themselves some bit of food. She distanced herself from the robber and the robber went his own way, and he noticed that she isn't here beside him. He began to shout out to her, and she made up her mind and did not respond to him at all, for she thought to herself, "My end is that he will sell me. Why should I answer him? If he reaches me again, I will reply to him I did not hear, especially as he does not want to kill me, for he wants to sell me." She did not respond to him and she went further on. And the robber sought her here and there and could not find her. And he went further and still could not find her; so probably vicious animals ate her up.

And she went further and further and was able to find some food, and walked on thus until she came to the place where the young man was living (that is, the aforementioned burgher's son). And by this time she was now overgrown with hair, and in additional she was dressed as a male in sailor's clothes as mentioned. They did not recognize one another. And immediately when she came he turned very happy that another person had come here. He asked her, "Where have you come here from?" [S]he answered, "I was with a merchant on the sea" etc. She asked him, "Where did you come here from?" He also answered her, "Through a merchant." The two of them remained there.

[The Empress and Emperor's Strife, Her Banishment, and His Decline; Reversal of the Banishment; the Empress Restores the Burgher and His Wife][edit]

After the emperor's daughter was snatched away from the emperor, as mentioned, the empress lamented a great deal and struck her head on the wall over the loss of her daughter, and she ate away at the emperor with words a great deal and said to him, "Because of your pride you've wasted the young man, and now our daughter has become lost!" And she said to him, "She was our entire fortune and our entire success. Now we've lost her. What is left for me?" So she ate away at him severely. And for himself as well this was certainly also very bitter that his daughter had become lost; in addition the empress ate away at and infuriated him very much. So there were severe quarrels and bickering between them; and she would say nasty things to him until she angered him very much, until he ordered her banished. And he had judges sit trial on her; they ruled that she be banished, and she was banished. Afterwards the emperor sent out into war and was not successful; he blamed this on some general: "Because you did so, therefore you lost the war." He banished the general. After that he sent off again into war and again was not successful. He banished more generals, and so he banished a number of generals. The country saw that he was doing bizarre things: first he banished the empress, then the generals. They decided (that is, the citizens): maybe the other way around — the empress should be sent for, he should be banished and she should lead the country. They did so and banished the emperor; and the empress they took back and she led the country. And the empress immediately sent for the burgher and his wife the burgheress to be brought back (as the emperor had brought them low and made them into paupers as mentioned, etc.). And she brought them into her palace.

[The Emperor's Release and Arrival at the Same wilderness as the Young Man and His Daughter][edit]

And the emperor, while he was being sent into exile, went ahead and begged those who were leading him that they should release him, "for, after all, I have been your emperor and must certainly have done good things for you. Now do this for me and let me go, for I will certainly not turn back to the country any longer. You need have no fear. Release me. Let me go my way. Let me at least be free, the little bit of life that I have yet to live." They released him, and he went on and went on. Meanwhile several years passed by and the emperor went on and went on until he reached the sea. The wind carried away his boat too and he too reached the aforementioned wilderness, until he came to the place where the other two were living (that is, where the young man, the burgher's son, and his daughter the beauty who was now going dressed as a male, were). They did not recognize one another, for the emperor had already become overgrown with hair and already several years had passed; and they too had become overgrown with hair as mentioned. They asked him, "Where have you come here from?" He answered them, "Through a merchant." And they answered him thus as well. The three of them stayed there together, eating and drinking there, as mentioned. And they played on musical instruments there, for they all were able to play, for this one is an emperor and likewise they too were able to play.

And he, that is, the young man, was the highly capable person [Yid. beryeh] among them, for he had been there since long ago already. And he would bring them meat, and they ate, and they would burn wood there, which was more precious than gold in settled places. The young man used to prove to them that here it is good for them to live out their years. According to the benefits that people have on earth in settled places, it is better that they should stay here, living out their worldly existence here. They asked him, "What sort of good did you have, that you say it is better for you here?" He answered them and told them what had happened to him: how he had been a burgher's son etc. until he came here, and what his being a burgher's son resulted in for him. Here too he has all the good. (Thus did the young man keep saying to them.) And he kept proving to them that here it is good to live out their worldly lives.

The emperor asked him, "Have you heard of the emperor?" He answered him: he had heard. He asked him about the beauty: whether he had heard of her. He answered him also: Yes. The young man began to talk angrily and said, "That murderer!" (As one who gnashes his teeth at the other person, so did the young man talk angrily about the emperor of whom they were speaking, for he did not know that the emperor himself is talking with him.) He asked him, "Why is he a murderer?" He answered him, "Because of his cruelty and because of his arrogance I've arrived here. He asked him, "How did that happen?"

The young man made up his mind that here he has no need to fear anyone, so he spoke to him and recounted the entire story that happened to him. He asked him, "If the emperor should come into your hand would you take revenge on him now?" He answered him, "No," (for he was a good person and merciful) "on the contrary, I would provide sustenance for him just as I sustain you." Again the emperor began to sigh and groan, saying, "What an evil and bitter old age this emperor has!" For he had heard that his daughter the beauty had become lost, and he himself has been banished. Again the young man spoke up, "Because of his cruelty (in other words, mercilessness) and because of his pride he squandered himself and his daughter and I have been cast off to here — all because of him." Again he asked him (the emperor to the young man), "If he should come into your hand would you take revenge on him?" He answers him, "No. I would sustain him precisely as I sustain you." The emperor made himself known to him and informed him that he himself is the emperor, and what has befallen him. The young man fell on him, kissed him and hugged him. And she, that is, the beauty, who was also present, only in disguise, etc. was listening to everything as the two were talking to one another.

[Searching for the Note][edit]

And the young man, it was his routine that he would go every day and make a sign for himself on three trees and look for the writing there (that is, in these three of the trees). For there were millions of trees, so he would make himself a sign on those which he searched, in order that he should no longer need to search in these three trees tomorrow. Thus he kept doing every day; perhaps he would still find the writing (that is, the note she had sent him which he had lost among the trees, as mentioned). And when he would return from there he would come with wept-out eyes, for he would cry when he searched and could not find. They asked him (that is, the emperor and the beauty) asked him, "What do you look for among the trees and then come back with wept-out eyes?" He told them the entire story: insofar as the emperor's daughter (that is, the beauty) had sent him a writing; he had hidden it in one of the trees; a storm wind came, etc. as mentioned. Now he searches; maybe he'll find it. They said to him, "Tomorrow when you go look we will also go with you. Maybe we will find the note." And so it was; they went with him too. The emperor's daughter found the note in a tree, and she opened it up and saw this is her own writing from her hand. She reckoned if she immediately discloses to him that this is she herself, that if she will again remove these clothes and return again to her beauty and again be a good-looker as before, he may collapse and pass away. And she wants that it should be done in a kosher way, according to traditional practice (in other words, she cannot marry him here in the wilderness, for she needs to have a wedding with him, as it ought to be). She went and returned the writing to him and told him that she had found the writing. (In other words, she did not tell him that this is she herself; rather, she simply told him that she had found the writing.) He immediately dropped down and was left faint. They restored him to health and there was great rejoicing among them.

Later the young man said, "What use is the writing for me? How will I ever be able to find her? For surely she is now with some king (for he thought that she had been sold by the murderer, just as the emperor had told him). What use is it for me? I will live out my years here." And he went and gave her back the writing and said to her, "Here! Take the note for yourself and you go and marry her" (for she was disguised as a male). She allowed herself to go but asked him to go with her as well. "For I will certainly take her; things will be good for me; I'll give you a share of my good." (In other words, the emperor's daughter who was disguised as a male said thus to the young man.) And the young man saw that "he" is a wise man and will certainly take her; he was willing to go with him (that is, with the emperor's daughter who he thought is a male). But the emperor was left alone, for he was afraid to go back to his country. She asked him to go too: for he will surely take the beauty. "You no longer have anything to fear. (In other words she said to him, 'I will certainly seek out the beauty, so you no longer have anything to fear, for the mazal will turn back when she is found.') And you will also be ordered to return."

[The Three Set Out to the Empress, the Daughter Reveals Herself, and the Wedding Takes Place][edit]

The three set out together and they hired a ship and came to the country where the empress lives, and they came to the city where she is located and they put the ship down. The emperor's daughter figured: if she immediately informs her mother that she has come back, she may pass away. She went and dispatched to her mother inasmuch as there is a man who has knowledge of her daughter. Then she herself went to the empress and told her what had happened to her daughter, telling her the entire story. And at the end she said to him (in these terms), "And she (that is, the daughter) is also here." She told her the truth: "I myself am she!" And she informed her that her groom, that is, the burgher's son, is here too; however, she said to her mother that she wants it no other way except that her father the emperor be restored to his place. However, her mother did not want this at all, for she was very upset at him, because all this was due to him; but nonetheless she had to do it for the sake of her daughter. They wanted to bring him back (the emperor); they searched for the emperor — and he's not there at all. Her daughter told out to her that the emperor is also here with her. The wedding took place; the joy was entire. And the kingdom and the empire they took over, that is, the burgher's son with the beauty who got married; and they reigned over the face of the earth [zey zinen molekh bekipah given], that is, they reigned over the entire world, Amen and Amen.

[Notes Following the Story][edit]

Afterwards as well the old emperor had no greatness, for it [the trouble] was all because of him. The burgher had enormous greatness — he is the emperor's father, who is the essential one [ikar, the root]. The sailor was smacked and smacked in the face and expelled.

Regarding Lot it says, "Ha'hárah himmalét/ to the mountain flee for salvation" (Gen. 19:17) — this is a burgher [a play on words: Yid. barg mountain, pl. berg < Ger. Berg mountain; ME burgh city < OE burg fortified town; O. High Ger. Burg fortified castle, all from Indo-European root *bhergh], and from him comes [Heb. is born] Mashiach. [Note: Rabbi Nachman's surname was Horodenker, as his grandfather, also named Nachman, was from the Ukrainian city Horodenka, the name of which stems from Ukrainian gorod, city. Thus "Burgher" might be interpreted as an allusion to this name.]

Jews had, in Mitzrayim, signs who would be the Redeemer etc. [Heb. only: paqódh paqádh'ti (Ex. 3:16: "I have remember-remembered you;" alternately, "a chief I have appointed"?) — he who says to them these terms is the Redeemer. And it is an astounding thing, since all Yisrael knew of this — so then what is this sign? Possibly it was not transmitted except to the elders.] And upon the [Heb. final] Redeemer [Yid. to come] there are certainly signs [Yid. do, here] as well.

Mashiach will say to every Jew everything that has happened to him every single day [Heb only: to every member of Yisrael individually]. Tamar also lost the signs, as it says in the Midrash. Also when she was going to be burned the Samekh-Mem came and removed the signs from her, and the angel Gabriel came and returned them, as it says in Midrash; out from her comes Mashiach, speedily in our days, Amen.

All this the Rebbe discussed after the story so that one can make some kind of surmise how far the story reaches. So, good for one who is privileged to know the stories' secret even in the other world!

Regarding that which is explained in the story, that every one comes with his song of desire and some are replied to via an emissary etc. as mentioned — so there are a number of great people who each do what they do [Heb. only: And each says songs and so forth] and each busies himself and wants to reach {Yid.: the truth; Heb.: the desired purpose. But there is none who attains the essential true purpose completely} — except the one who is worthy/ fit/ eligible [re'ui] for it. And some are answered via an emissary, or from under [Heb. behind] the wall, or they show them the face etc. as in the story. However, in the end, when they leave this world, they answer them that they've still done nothing at all, like it is written in the story, how the beauty ultimately answers them, "Di vassern haben aber iber dir noch nit ariber gigangen," until the right leader comes — speedily in our days, Amen! This too the Rebbe z"l discussed.


  1. Crudely translated as "luck" or "fortune," mazal also denotes "constellation," and its root, zal, actually denotes drip or flow; thus mazal denotes the flow of providence and supervision from Hashem, down through the constellations and other devices.
  2. Chayei Moharan #60 says that someone mentioned, in Rebbe Nachman's presence, a document written with golden letters, after which he told this story.